Nobody wants to change themselves.
I'm not going to delve into the particulars of the individuals accused, and subsequently separated from the department. The mainstream media will handle all of that very well. My concern lies with the remainder of the employees of the GJPD, and how the culture of that organization functions as a mechanism of support for those trying to ply the trade in the wake of another wave of negative publicity.
Ralph D'Andrea had a thoughtful post yesterday on the nature of the investigation. He brought up the idea of a civilian review board, and increased transparency when it comes to these types of investigations. It's worth a read.
From my perspective, I think that you have to have the ability to laugh at yourself to survive some of the stressors of the job. One factor that affects communications people is maintaining readiness when all the work is caught up, and you're just manning the phones and radios waiting for the next call.
Early on in my tenure at GJRCC, I once compared a dispatcher's cross-stitch project to a black velvet Elvis painting. The following shift, the inside of my locker was plastered with magazine photos of "The King". I kept those up until the day I left for good, in part to laugh at myself, and in part to remind myself of the need to express myself judiciously and carefully.
Here are some pictures of the Fruita Police Department's entry in the Bed Races at last month's Fruita Fall Festival. Pig noses, pink pajama bottoms, and an exquisitely decorated chariot with the team's name on the side.
To quote the Fruita officer's Facebook page where these pictures came from, "I think we cover almost all the cliches we could think of". And yes, that appears to be a donut on the end of a fishing line.
This is what I mean by being able to let loose a little bit and laugh at yourself. Public Safety is a serious business, but the human factors need to be addressed as well, perhaps over and above tangible items like compensation and benefits.
I can certainly see not only the public relations benefits of these types of activities, but also the positive effects on those doing the job, perhaps to keep them from taking themselves too seriously. Well done.
In previous posts I've mentioned the activities of Housing First! No More Deaths!, a homeless advocacy group that had its genesis over this past summer. Apparently the group continues to meet on Tuesdays in Whitman Park. According to a post on Facebook and several independent media websites:
Mr. Richards' supporters conducted a call-in campaign on October 1, targeting GJPD officials, Mayor Bruce Hill, and District Attorney Pete Hautzinger. Mr. Richards was released the following day. In a comment on colorado.indymedia.org, Mr. Richards admitted that he did have a warrant for his arrest, and also stated that "the way it was handled speaks to political retribution and/or intimidation".
"An organizer of the Housing First! No More Deaths! campaign was arrested 09/29/09 during the group's weekly meeting, in an act of politically targeted police abuse of power. Housing First! No More Deaths! is committed to empowering people to actively and collectively work to address root causes of houselessness and create grassroots solutions.
The arrest of Jacob Richards was an obvious act of retribution for his political activities. On 9/28/09, Richards assisted local houseless community members who were being harassed in a public park by two officers from the Grand Junction Police Department. The same two officers returned on 9/29/09 during the publicly advertised campaign meeting, asked Richards to identify himself, and arrested him on an unrelated petty matter."
Sounds to me that the police did their job, albeit with a sense of timing and decorum that can best be described as questionable. As I said back in July, this group is probably not going to go away, and it is their stated intent to educate the homeless population as to their rights as citizens, and work proactively toward providing shelter and other services for those that may not otherwise have access to them.
This will likely continue to grate at those who seek to gentrify the south downtown area, and put the homeless out of sight. I've walked the 16th Street Mall in Denver in the late evening, and if they can't put them out of sight there, what chance does Grand Junction think they have?
Regardless of what your opinion is of this segment of our population, it's getting cold and lives are at stake. As CNN and other news outlets across the country are reporting almost daily, this is a nationwide trend, and not limited to large metro areas. The next iteration of this trend is starting to impact those cities; hopefully this is something that the Grand Valley can avoid in the future.
Both sides in this need to continue what I thought was a reasonable attempt at dialogue. If the above account is accurate as to the facts, then Mr. Richards should pay his fines, and the GJPD should exercise their statutory authority with a little more of an ear toward diplomacy.
Now run along and play nice...
Light Gives Heat's mission statement is "Empowering Africans through the encouragement of economic stability and creative endeavors. Motivating people in the West to 'be the change they want to see in the world'". Those in GJ may remember the group selling necklaces made in Uganda at a few Farmer's Markets this past summer.
The quote at the top of this page came from their website, and it's given me pause as I embark on an unknown path after school is finished. Leslie would like this.
Kate is documenting her experience in a blog, which can be read here. I'll feature it in the Favorite Blogs sidebar as well. I'm thinking that regardless of the trappings of a career path, this experience will likely be more rewarding for Kate than being a weather girl in Albuquerque.
Best wishes and godspeed in your travels, Kate.
It's yet unclear if the City of Englewood will appeal. More information is available via the ACLU of Colorado's website. An editorial in today's Denver Post embellished the point even further. Congratulations to the appellants on their hopefully permanent victory.